When he was a kid, one of my best friends joined the Boy Scouts of America. He was a model Scout for the duration of his membership, but that membership was suddenly revoked after about six months—not for misconduct or failure to complete program requirements, but because his Scout Master saw that he identified himself as agnostic on his Myspace.
Such discrimination against non-theists (people who don’t affirm the existence of gods) is surprisingly widespread in the U.S. Many organizations such as the Boy Scouts, who call themselves private even though they benefit from public funds, have discriminatory policies that bar non-theists from membership. According to former Eagle Scout Steve Cozza, “when they want to discriminate, they act as a private organization; when they want money or the use of publicly-funded buildings, venues, or property, they act as a public organization.” Worse than this is our theistic oath of office requirement for federal officials. Congressional representatives, military officers, and other federal employees are often forced to take an oath of office ending with the phrase “so help me God,” and this can prevent well-qualified candidates from serving–just for sticking to their principles. Yet perhaps the worst example of discrimination against nonbelievers is theism as qualification for holding public office being written into numerous state constitutions. The constitutions of South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Maryland, and other states contain clauses that exclude people who do not acknowledge the existence of God or a Supreme Being (phraseology varies) from holding office. In spite of the Supreme Court’s 1961 ruling that such clauses violate the federal Constitution, they are still used to deny those who are not monotheists (which includes those with polytheistic and atheistic religions, like paganism and Buddhism, respectively) the right to serve in state governments.
A dismaying number of Americans are unaware of this problem or just don’t care enough to do something about it, although there are many simple ways to help make it clear that such discriminative policies are both inconsistent with the Constitution and unacceptable to the American public and to help bring them to an end, such as:
- Writing letters or emailing state and federal representatives about our concerns regarding such discrimination and calling on them to take legislative measures to prevent it and repeal iniquitous clauses.
- Organizing rallies or petitions in support of equal opportunities for non-theists.
- Joining organizations such as the Freedom From Religion Foundation and American Civil Liberties Union, or donating to such organizations, or simply taking action online by sending pre-fabricated emails to leaders and lawmakers through their websites.
- Forming new organizations that promote tolerance and equity among theists and non-theists alike.
- Sharing concerns about discriminatory policies with groups like the Boy Scouts, petitioning them to admit prospective members regardless of religion or lack thereof, or legally challenging them if rejected for beliefs or lack thereof.
If we all take decisive action, we can bring about the end of discrimination against nonbelievers and fulfillment of promises of U.S. Constitution, made in the First and Fourteenth Amendments. According to the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This implies the freedom to choose any religion or no religion. According to the Fourteenth Amendment, “no state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States… nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction equal protection of the laws.” This implies equal opportunities for all, theists and non-theists alike. Clearly, these promises have yet to be fulfilled. However, this can change–and it will, if the historical trend of human progress continues. But such progress is never achieved without effort.
Thus, I urge you all to join me and groups like the FFRF and ACLU in taking action to help end discrimination against non-theists. Hopefully, our collective actions will lead to the dawn of an era where people like my old friend, the would-be Boy Scout, will not have to fear persecution for not sharing the beliefs of the majority.
Strong cross between Victor Hugo Morales and Magdalena Ruiz Guinazu
As part of a series of interviews with presidential candidates performed together at Radio Continental, Magdalena Ruiz Guinazu and Victor Hugo Morales had a strong cross over journalism.
After a conversation about the media close to the government, Ruiz Guinazu suggested that the name of Victor Hugo’s program on Channel 9, Down-line, reflecting the relationship of the journalist with the Casa Rosada.
-Magdalena Ruiz Guinazu: What do you call your program on Channel 9?
– Victor Hugo Morales: Slope of line
– MRG: Slope of line, of course …
– VHM: That I underline, not that I lower it to me …
– MRG: I think so … Anyone who sees your program on Channel 9 or listens to Radio Continental, you know … and you’re defending your right to defend your ideas, but do not come to say that the Government does not intervene … Let the audience questions …
– VHM: No way there will be questions you want here as I hold someone down line on my TV because Bajada line call. Did you think that I fall line, Magdalena?
– MRG: I think so.
– VHM: Who the government?
– MRG: I do not know who, but certainly the government. You defend him permanently. In addition you qualify here the general press and colleagues say they’re a bunch of crap.
– VHM: Never say a word, I would not say that for radio.
– MRG: Yes, and I apply it to me too.
– VHM I did not know … but when? Do you have a record of such an accusation?
– MRG: I do not usually use espionage others do, I have no recording, we were all in the studio here.
“From the nose”. Then Ricardo Alfonsín entered the discussion, when Morales said that “the opposition is led by the nostrils in the mainstream media.”
“Why is so aggressive, Victor Hugo? That is an attitude that is not democratic. I have many more media credentials to oppose the Government: the party, my father [former President Raul Alfonsin], my values. Why do I have to be led by the nose? “interrupted the candidate of the Union for Social Development (UDESA). “I take that word, is a way of signaling that they always mark what is spoken and what was discussed,” continued the driver.
By this he meant the beginning of the crossing, when focused on the complaint to the Secretary of Internal Trade, Guillermo Moreno, about his alleged violent incident against an official of the militant Pro “I want to know what we got when we got in the allegations of media companies have now a real mafia, as reported by a hidden camera we know these days, led by [the CEO of Grupo Clarin, Hector] Magnetto, mafia who feel threatened because newsprint is for them a very painful subject, and the man who is facing Newsprint Moreno “.
“What evidence do you have to say that what Newsprint is a mafia? That the decision of the Court, Victor Hugo. Why are you required to say something else when such rigorous testing as the government says something, you are not requires such rigorous testing? “questioned the candidate. “I have the moral conviction that it is a mafia,” said Victor Hugo, to which Alfonsin said: “I have many convictions, but I can from my convictions to say what happens to me. That’s what the Justice. I have many beliefs, many certainties, and many things that happen in the private sector and the media do not like but it is much more serious when these things are done by the State, the State must argue that these things do not happen ” .
Then, Alfonsin stressed the multiplication of media close to the government in recent times, backed by Ruiz Guinazu. “In a few countries, a government must have many means at its favor,” said presidential candidate and spoke of “media patronage” in the media inside, driven from government advertising.
The first customer will take possession of model Fisker Karma is Leonardo DiCaprio. In addition, 3,000 clients have already ordered the car, and by early 2012, the company Fisker says it will honor all requests. Some say the waiting list is longer and other personalities such as Al Gore and Colin Powel.Currently, the Valmet factory in Finland produces five cars per week, but by November the rate will increase to 300 units produced per week
Henrik Fisker, the founder has more ambitious plans. After Karma will be retired, Fisker aims to create more new versions, including a shooting and a convertible station wagon, which will be sold in limited series. The shooting break will be launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show this fall.
If all goes as planned in early 2013 Fisker will expose to the public a smaller model designed to rival the BMW 3 series. Currently, its code name is,”Nina Project. Fisker Karma is a vehicle built with aluminum chassis and is equipped with two electric motors, and a propellant gas station, which occupies the central place the battery charging. Are available 260 hp, 2.0-liter engine produced by the turbo.
We do not know if Leonardo DiCaprio him more interested in technical data or design of this machine, but we know that girl in the photos is not included in standard package.
Terrorism is a major cause of fear, anxiety, and destruction all over the world, in countries like India, Pakistan, USA, UK, France, China, and Spain. How can we get rid of terrorism?
Can anyone ever get used to terrorism? No, it is always a traumatic event for the people involved.
A survey, funded by the National Center for Food Protection and Defense, conducted over the Internet by TNS-NFO 2005 among 4,260 U.S. residents over the age of sixteen found that 98 percent of U.S. residents believed there will be another terrorist attack during their lifetime.
What is Terrorism?
There is no universally valid common definition of terrorism. Terrorism is commonly understood as a systematic use of terror for ideological goals, especially targeted at civilians (non-combatants). If anyone uses terror for making profits or snatching other people’s possessions, it’s robbery, piracy etc and not terrorism.
The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373, in response to 9/11 attacks on the USA unanimously imposed on all members that all members shall not finance, support terrorists or provide safe havens for them. Most countries, especially those that have suffered from terrorism, have some form of legislation specifically authorizing anti-terrorism measures.
Criticism of Terrorism Definitions
There is much debate about the definition of terrorism and what is considered lawful response. Historically, the main argument against terrorism is the unlawful use of violence. Depending on the point of view, unlawful violence has been used for centuries by many nation states to further their own commercial, political ends and further their hegemony ambitions as well as destabilize or delegitimize political opponents. Thus, nation states themselves can be seen as becoming guilty of practising the same crimes they accuse the terrorists of doing.
Further, the response to terrorist attacks seldom addresses issues that produced terrorism in the first place. Significantly, the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373 does not require nation state members to investigate the reasons, which produce these horrendous acts of violence.
Most of the known terrorists today are networks. Some are home grown inside nation states, with or without support from powerful groups inside that nation state or with external support even from other nation states. Many are loose international movements functioning as autonomous cells with sophisticated support and functional systems.
Terrorists Can Become Good Guys
There are many notable instances of people called terrorists by others abandoning violence and actually becoming peacemakers.
In 1947, the New York Times describe Irgun, the militant Zionist group fighting against the British occupation, as a terrorist organisation after the King David Hotel bombing in 1946, which killed 91 people. Eventually, their leader Menachem Begin became the prime minister of Israel and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978.
Nelson Mandela, another Nobel Prize winner respected all over the world today, could enter the UN only in July 2008 after being taken off the US list of terrorists by President Bush.
Samuel Adams, one of the leaders of the 1773 Boston Tea Party, a terrorist from the British government perspective, is respected as the “Father of the American Revolution”.
Wikipedia Approach to Terrorism
Terrorism machinators have now adopted a Wikipedia approach, where planners rely on users (media, terrorism analysis industry and media users) for maintaining and contributing to their aims of spreading terror.
The masterminds behind the recent November 26,2008 Mumbai attacks have understood how important their terrible actions are for a terrorism-hungry media, a terrorism analysis industry, local politicians and power groups eager to capitalise on the event.
By showing their faces on CCTV cameras, the terrorists assumed that their images would be broadcast all over the world, and they were. The media response has been a guarantee of instant fame (notoriety) for the perpetrators.
A few days ago the news of the British terror suspect Rashid Rauf being killed in a US drone attack in North Waziristan was spread in global media along with his picture and biographic profile on major media sources.
Do these incidents reveal a new culture of instant attention and fame? Is it the same psychology driving people to take part in programmes like reality shows, Idols and Big Brother? Are we experiencing celebrity terrorism? The psychology behind their recruitment is fame, which they would never get otherwise.
The machinators have understood this emptiness in the inner lives of the young men and fill them with hatred and commands for doing terrible violence.
A Different Solution to Terrorism
The standard response to terrorism has been to fortify borders. Well, can we have a fortress USA, a fortress UK, China or India in this contemporary world of globalization, transparency, and interdependence?
What about seriously directing efforts and a part of these hundreds of billions spent on anti-terrorism wars etc., at creating social, educational, and entrepreneurial structures that would give create jobs for young men in areas where terrorism originates?
Would making roads, building houses, schools, hospitals, and energy production facilities for the local people drive most of the young angry men away from the clutches of the evil machinators?
Surely, it would boost the struggling economies of the developed world by giving jobs to their workers too.
The 44th President of the United States is about as unknown to the average American as he can be; because he is not a life-long Washington politician.
Most of his life has been spent as a private citizen and an educator. Next week, he travels to France to meet with President Nicolas Sarkozy and it turns out that they have something in common. Neither of them had their father live with them.
President Obama, although extraordinarily bright that he is, will need to use an interpreter to converse with Sarkozy as our current president received a D in 8th grade French!
Here are some other interesting facts about our new African-American President:
1. Obama’s ancestors owned slaves:
A distant cousin from his mother’s side, Gabriel Duvall, a Supreme Court Justice and a member of the US House of Representatives, from the second district of Maryland was also a friend of Thomas Jefferson and the owner of 37 slaves
2. His maternal grandparents liked to move around:
Born in Kansas, Obama’s maternal grandparents lived in four states before settling in Hawaii.
3. Obama’s great-uncle liberated a Nazi concentration camp:
Charles T. Payne, served in the U.S. Army 89th Division and helped liberate Buchenwald concentration camp.
4. Obama has highly educated family members
Father Barack Hussein Obama got a Master degree in economics from Harvard University, Mother Stanley Ann Dunham Soetoro got a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Hawai, Half-sister Auma Obama got her PhD from the University of Heidelberg.
5. China Business Consultant among family members
Mark Ndesandjo, Barack Obama’s half-brother, son of Ruth Nidesand and Barack Obama Sr. runs an Internet company called WorldNexus that advises Chinese corporations how best to reach international customers.
6. Obama’s Grandmother was a bank president
Barack Obama’s maternal grandmother was a bank vice president in Hawaii.
7. His wife was assigned to be his mentor
In 1989 Michelle Obama was asked to mentor a summer associate from Harvard name Barack Obama. Michelle Robinson initially brushed off advances from Barack because he was an intern, and she was higher up the law firm’s hierarchy as an associate.
8. Obama has won two major media awards
Obama has won two Grammy Awards. First for Best Spoken Word Album in 2005 for the audio book edition of Dreams From My Father (2004), and again in 2007 for the audio book edition of The Audacity of Hope (2006).
9. Gandhi is Obama’s hero
His heroes are Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Pablo Picasso and John Coltrane.
10. Who would Obama choose to play Obama in a movie?
Obama has said that he would like Will Smith to play himself in a movie.
by James Kelly
Why the British Labour Party abandoned its traditional socialist policies, and the lessons that can be applied to the party’s current predicament.
When the British Labour Party abandoned much of its socialist ideology in the 1990s, it did so for one reason – the pursuit of popularity, and by extension the pursuit of power. It had been in opposition for almost two decades, lost four general elections in a row, and the question that was being posed more and more volubly was “what”s the point of having the most wonderful policies in the world if you never have the power to put them into practice?’ The moment that came to symbolise this dilemma more than any other was the 1983 election, when Labour was led by its most left-wing leader since pre-war times, Michael Foot, and had a manifesto that made radical party activists purr with pleasure. The party went on to suffer its most crushing defeat since the 1930s, and came perilously close to slipping into third place in the popular vote. Perhaps not unreasonably, the lesson drawn by the “modernisers” in the party – including the young Tony Blair and Gordon Brown – was that Labour’s electoral woes were directly correlated to the party’s ideological distance from the centre of gravity in the country as a whole.
“June 9th, 1983, never again!” was the new leader Neil Kinnock’s battle-cry as he embarked on the slow and painful process of moving Labour onto the centre-ground of politics where it was felt it could achieve electability. The most dramatic indication of the sacrifices the party was prepared to make came when Kinnock himself shifted on one of his most passionately-held personal beliefs, and agreed to support the retention of the UK’s nuclear weapons. In an interview days before the 1992 general election, he even suggested that as Prime Minister he might be prepared in some circumstances to launch a nuclear attack – an extraordinary position for a man who had devoted much of his political life to the cause of unilateral disarmament.
But Labour still lost the 1992 election, its fourth defeat in succession. Did this give the true believers in the “1983 maxim” some pause for thought? Quite the reverse. The fact that the Conservatives’ parliamentary majority had been slashed to 21 was cited as proof that Labour’s ideological repositioning had gained some traction with the electorate. The fact that the Conservatives remained in power simply proved that the process hadn’t gone far enough yet. So “New Labour” was born, and in Tony Blair the party suddenly had a leader who was probably further to the right than many “conservative” political leaders in continental Europe. Yet so hungry were the party faithful for power, and so completely had they bought into the modernizers’ analysis of what was required to achieve that goal, they accepted every move Blair made as being necessary. It was sometimes mischievously suggested that if Blair had wanted to reintroduce capital punishment, the party rank-and-file would have let it through on the nod.
And in 1997, the Labour party did not merely return to power, but recorded the most comprehensive victory by any side in a British general election since the 1930s. Some pointed out there was considerable evidence that if John Smith, Blair’s immediate predecessor as Labour leader, had not died in office, he would still have been able to lead the party back to power from a more traditional centre-left position. But not by anything like the same margin, the modernisers retorted. It did indeed seem to be the final, irrefutable proof that Labour’s level of support went up in direct proportion to how far it had moved to the right.
But fast forward to the present day. Gordon Brown has persisted with the Blairite strategy of tacking to the right, and yet the latest opinion polls show Labour at its lowest level of support since records began, and thus by definition lower than at the party’s 1983 nadir. Gordon Brown is a less popular leader than Michael Foot. New Labour was founded on the principle that if you are shedding votes, you must ruthlessly shed your current ideology to win those votes back. As it is the more traditional Labour voters who have been deserting the party in droves – witness the Scottish parliament election last year – the obvious conclusion to draw is that the party must shift back to the left to regain some degree of support.
The objection to this analysis might be that Labour cannot hope to win the next election with its traditional supporters alone – it needs the entire New Labour coalition of 1997. Unfortunately, the hard truth is that this coalition is long gone, and the next election is almost certainly already lost. To adapt the question that was asked in the long years of opposition to fit present-day circumstances – “if you”re going to lose anyway, what’s the point of having power for the next two years if you’re not going to use it to achieve the things your party is supposed to believe in?’